The Passo Valparola takes its name from the ironworks that were once near the pass, Valparola being the Latin translation of iron furnace valley. There has been a trail over the pass since the Stone Age but like many of the roads in this area it was the advent of WW1 that resulted in it being metaled.
Its recent history is thankfully now linked to battles on two wheels such as that between Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali in the 1946 Giro. Following an altercation with the event organisers the night before the race arrived on the Valporola Bartali ended up getting very drunk. The next morning, sensing his competitors inebriation Coppi launched an attack nine kilometres from the summit to eventually take five minutes out of his great rival and position himself as the virtual leader. Bartali was now forced to bribe past foes within the peloton to form alliances in order to reduce Coppi’s advantage, who, although going onto win the stage did not manage to capture the Maglia Rosa (race leaders jersey).
- From La Villa -
The climb is best ridden from La Villa in the base of the valley heading south through San Cassiano and although the early slopes are somewhat cluttered with a number of roundabouts the higher you climb the more amazing it becomes. With an opening six kilometres of very shallow 2-5% gradient the climb then begins to get a little harder after that but nothing more arduous than a brief 11% incline. The ascent isn’t littered with hairpins with just eight of them set in two groups of four so make the most of theses features when they arrive to break up the long straights.
As you approach the summit the views behind you looking down the Badia valley are so mind blowing you will feel the need to pinch yourself to check if you are dreaming and will force you to stop pedalling to soak them up.
Points of interest
The Tre Sassi Fort, built by the Austrians then bombarded by the Italians has been restored and now houses a museum and information center offering fascinating insights into the Great War in the Dolomites.
Stella Alpina Post
From the summit you can also visit the Edelweiss Stellung (the “Stella Alpina Post”), a former military village consisting of several shacks, six of which have been recently rebuilt by local volunteers.
On the southern flank, just 1500 metres from the summit lies the top of the Passo Falzarego with collection of cafés, souvenir shops and restaurants.
Maratona dles Dolomites
The south flank of the pass is the final climb in the Maratona dles Dolomites which although only rising 83m from the summit of the Passo Falzarego is always agony after all the climbing that has preceded it.
From the Rifugio Passo Valparola at the summit there are numerous hiking trails to the Col di Lana, the Lagazuoi (Kaiserjäger path), the Fanes Plateau and towards the Pralongia mountain inn.
"The view down the Badia Valley from the top of the Valparola is more beautiful than anything Hollywood could ever dream up."
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